T Nation

Fighting Against Squat Devices


I volunteer as a football coach at a local high school. I am trying to convince the staff that devices like the "manta ray" (a rubber device that holds the bar in position on the traps) are not in the best interest of our players. The bar is held too high off the traps and tends to produce too much forward lean. I am unaware of any college teams that use these devices. Fire away please.


I had to do a google image search to see what the manta ray was, and to me, it does look like it puts the bar a bit high, but then again one could use high bar squats for a reason in their routine.

I think it would be good for when you want to do high bar squats, but that's about it.

Do they require the kids to use this?


in my opinion manta ray squats are a good exersize to add variation to a routine...regular squats should be the norm though, not manta ray squats...

I use the manta ray maybe five or six workouts a year (although I use much less weight than I would in my regular squat form) just to change things up a bit...

if the other coaches at your school plan on using the manta ray for every squat session that would be a mistake...if they just want to use it every now and then with lighter weights then it could be a good thing...


Because the bar rides higher when you use a Manta ray, you end up with, in essence, a functionally longer torso. When the torso is longer (in relation to leg length), you'll have a more upright squat, which may be valuable for many lifters, esp. with regard to low back symptomology.

On the other hand, with the Manta Ray you lose your direct connection to the bar and control may be reduced, which in and of itself may predispose you to injury.

As with all things, the Manta Ray is a tool which may help or hurt depending on the context...


I've heard that the Westside crew uses the Manta Ray device to add variety to their training.

The Manta Ray is definitely meant for high bar, Olympic style squats... more quad and less hip/back.

I like the Manta Ray but there is no reason why a young lifter shouldn't learn to squat without one.


The kids aren't required to use them but most do since it "feels better" on their shoulders. It is my second year coaching and the "squat lower even if you have to use lighter weight" battle is being won.

There were alot of 1/4 squats being done as full squats (along with straight-legged powercleans) but now most have learned to do squats (and cleans) with proper form. The manta ray seems to push their heads down and put them on their toes, which is my main objection.


Westside uses the Manta Ray because the higher bar position has the lifter "fight"or stay tighter while sitting back during a box squat essentially building lots of torso strength. Maybe the athletes needs stronger abs if they are coming forward in the squat. Bur hey at least they are squatting good job!! BTW Jim Wendler says a rolled up towel can be used as a substitute to the Manta Ray.


Ditto the folks above. I use a manta ray from time to time (usually box squatting with a narrow to medium stance). I find that the different leverage forces me to really fight ot keep my arch. When the weights get heavy, you might still fly out of the hole, but you will cave-over at the top and have to fight the bar into lock-out postition.

It's a cool knick-knack- but I wouldn't replace the back squat with it.


I've been using a Manta Ray for about 6 years and I absolutely love it...


Recently, when I attempt my higher lifts (150 lb, I am female, and squat sumo-style), people in the gym have told me that I am leaning over too far to the front. This, despite my attempts to have picture perfect form, stick my ass all the way out, and keep looking at the ceiling. It's happened more than once, with several different people telling me the same thing.

I am inclined to believe them.

I'm sure it's because the bar is too high and my body is attempting to regulate the center of gravity.

That said, I still love my Manta Ray and I think it has a place helping newbies learn to squat, especially those people who don't have the greatest upper body development or cushioning, but whose can otherwise push some decent poundages with their legs.

I plan to start weaning off the thing soon, and learning how to hold the bar lower across my back and also deal without having that extra surface area to spread the load. I suspect it will be difficult, as my shoulder has to come back further in order to grip the bar down there, and my rotator cuffs aren't in the best shape.


I'm gonna disagree with this; as a newbie the most important thing is to work on your weak spots and correct imbalances, not make them worse/create new imbalances with something like a manta ray.

One problem is that by starting out with the manta ray, you are working your strong (quads) rather than your weak spots (upperbody, posterior chain). Your imbalances will become even worse.

When you work out, you are not just building muscle but you are also building coordination. If you spend your first lifts using something like a manta ray your nervous system will build/strengthen connections associated with using a manta ray, then when you go to squat without one you will actually have to fight against your previous training as you are doing now, creating more work for yourself.

In the long term, it makes more sense to learn how to squat correctly before you try to max out.


I believe that Louis Simmons uses them for a Variation of squats since it does change the biomechanics of the lift


To much forward lean isn't bad as long as you can maintain proper arch in spine. In my experience the manta ray can help an athlete maintain lordodic curve if they have trouble doing so.

Pete Arroyo


The Manta Ray is a tremendeous way to learn the squat, and to take the benefits of the squat.

If any athlet, lean forward during a lift with the manta ray. It isnt the manta ray's false, its because the athlets weak ab-muscle.

Start doing heavy ab work, then they Not lean forward during a lift, with or without any Manta Ray.


What about pads? How bad are they? I used to use one, but then I stopped after reading many negative comments on this site. I have recently started using it again as it takes pressure off my injured shoulder, and I remebered why I started using it in the first place: because the bar would remain securely in place. When I squat without it I find I have to stick my elbows out to the rear in order to keep the bar on the top of my back. I'm obviously doing something wrong here...


VARIATION folks, variation. The Manta Ray does what it is designed to do; it places the bar high and provides a stable platform. If you are a powerlifter then I would avoid or limit the use but for athletes, bodybuilders or any others I think it works well, for variation if nothing else.



Pads are for pussies :wink:


Thanks Zap, that really makes me feel better.


I have used a manta ray since they came onto the market and have had nothing but success with it. In regards to the leaning to far forward problem, i simply moved the device a little back and down until it just started to feel like it wasnt going to seat properly and my training partners said i was golden. i like it also because you can hold onto the bar easier. what does suck is after yur traps get bigger it starts to feel out of place on yur back.


If they are producing too much forward lean, then it is a form issue. As Coach Staley said, the Manta Ray should place the weight further up the spine, meaning the athlete should be able to squat in a more upright position.

I don't see any problem with using it. If it gets the kids squating and it isn't going to hurt them, then I think it's a good idea. Bottom line is, if they are getting good results, then who cares if they use a Manta Ray?


Anything that gets people squatting is good, for the most part. Lots of people who wouldn't squat could probably be tempted to try if they had something like a Manta Ray.